An ambulance© Medicimage/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

A sudden and surprising increase in the number of farm fatalities in February has prompted farm leaders to call for increased vigilance in and around farmyards.

Latest figures there were 10 deaths on farms in the UK in that single month – including one child.

That compares with a more “normal” average of about three deaths a month – based on a five-year annual average of 37 fatalities.

Last year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported 29 fatalities in total, which was a welcome downturn.

See also: 2015-16 sees fewer farm deaths

In one recent case, a farmer and his dog were killed on a level crossing in Frampton Mansell, Gloucestershire, after his Land Rover was hit by a train travelling at 50mph.

Colin Cameron, 60, suffered multiple injuries and died following the incident, on Tuesday (7 February).

And last weekend (Saturday, 4 March) a 20-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital and died of her injuries following an accident involving machinery on a farm near Dawlish in Devon.

Devon and Cornwall Police and the HSE are currently investigating the incident. 

Machinery dangers

Accidents involving farm machinery were the cause of the majority of recorded farm deaths in February.

NFU vice-president and Farm Safety Partnership chair Guy Smith urged farmers to make safety a priority.

“Farmers can protect themselves by planning to keep people separate from tractors and other farm vehicles whenever possible,” he said.

“Following the Safe Stop procedure of hand brake on, controls in neutral, engine off and keys out is vital when working on machinery.

“Check, check and check again that vehicles are properly maintained. Something as simple as topping up brake fluid or repairing a load indicator light could mean the difference between life and death.”

The HSE has published guidance on child safety and on preventing accidents to children.

And guidance is also available on tractors and on avoiding overturns.

February’s fatalities included:

  • A farmer killed when unloading cattle from his vehicle
  • A man run over by a telehandler
  • A worker died when he came into contact with his chainsaw during tree work
  • A farmer was crushed underneath mini tractor and trailer that overturned on steep ground
  • A falling straw bale killed a worker whilst unloading
  • A man was killed when the farm vehicle he was repairing fell onto him
  • A child was killed when run over by a farm vehicle